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Jul 23, 2018 3:57 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Peter Marino's Art Collection Goes On Exhibition At Southampton Arts Center

Peter Marino. SEAN ZANNI/PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM
Jul 23, 2018 3:57 PM

When “Counterpoint,” a new exhibition featuring close to 100 works of art from the collection of Peter Marino, opens at the Southampton Arts Center on Friday, July 27, it will be unlike anything that’s been seen in Southampton Village for quite some time—if ever.

That’s because Mr. Marino’s world-class contemporary art collection contains work by many of the most important artists of the last half century. He has Warhols, Mapplethorpes, Lalannes, Hirsts, all of which will be on view in a show that is a scaled down version of “One Way: Peter Marino,” a major exhibition of the collector’s work shown at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami in 2014.

Mr. Marino, an architect who lives in Southampton, credits Simone Levinson, a co-chair of the Southampton Arts Center board of directors, for getting the whole idea for “Counterpoint” started.

“She’s interested in developing the cultural aspect of life in Southampton,” he said during a recent interview at his home. “I believe in that as a collector. This community is very sophisticated on many levels. I support the idea of any kind of cultural event here in Southampton.”

He added that when Samuel Parrish built the Southampton Arts Center building on Jobs Lane in the late 19th century to house his extensive art collection—it was the original home of the Parrish Art Museum—he did so because he felt it was important for Southampton to have high-quality cultural institutions in its midst.

Since the departure of the Parrish Art Museum to its new home in Water Mill more than five years ago, it has fallen to the Southampton Arts Center to carry on that mission in the space—and with this high-caliber exhibition, which runs through September 23, the arts center is doing just that.

Mr. Marino began collecting art in 1978, when Andy Warhol gave him artwork in exchange for a renovation project at his Upper East Side townhouse. That was 40 years ago, and in the decades since, The Peter Marino Collection has grown to include thousands of works, among them paintings and mixed media pieces by some of the most notable artists of our time.

When asked what he looks for when considering a piece for acquisition, Mr. Marino answered, “Visual, visual, visual. It has to be compelling on a visual level. It also has to have some heart—the element of truth. I think great art is all based on truth. Great art doesn’t get into artifice.”

As a Cornell-trained architect with a strong background in fine art, Mr. Marino is unique in his profession in that he has developed a style that seamlessly integrates art within his architectural practice. His designs include residential, luxury retail and hotels around the world, and he frequently brings artists into the process by asking them to create site-specific work for his buildings.

“As an architect, I’m a modernist known for color and textures. Many modern structures are all white, like Richard Meier’s, but I enjoy using all the senses through color, texture, sound … I approach architecture from a different point of view. I start with, ‘Here’s the site, and here are the materials that might look good—the materials that humans relate to, that they like to touch and see.”

That philosophy extends to the artwork Mr. Marino incorporates into his buildings. “I’m not someone who buys art to put in a hotel or a store. What makes my practice unique is I commission art,” he explained. “You get creative juices going and get the unexpected.”

The unexpected is exactly what audiences will see in “Counterpoint,” and the exhibition will be presented in five distinct sections at the Southampton Arts Center—all reflecting Mr. Marino’s passions, profession and personal flair.

The Gardens Gallery at the entrance will greet visitors and serve as a connection to the wider Southampton community. It will feature a large-scale photograph by Jason Schmidt of Mr. Marino’s 12-acre garden in Southampton and serve as the backdrop for “Grand Moutons de Peter,” nine bronze sheep sculptures by famed French sculptor Francois-Xavier Lalanne. Mr. Marino is a major collector of the late artist’s work, as well as that of his wife, Claude Lalanne. The Gardens Gallery will also highlight some of Mr. Marino’s East End architectural projects, along with several other artworks.

The next room, the Pop Art Gallery, will contain paintings and sculptures by renowned artists of the genre, many of whom have created site-specific works for Mr. Marino’s architectural projects. Among them are Tom Sachs, Joel Morrison and Richard Prince. Pieces on view will include Warhol’s “Knives,” 1981-82, and Damien Hirst’s 2006 “Lapdancer”—a medical cabinet filled with surgical equipment.

“It contains instruments of life and death,” Mr. Marino said. “It’s disturbing but oddly beautiful.”

The third gallery, titled Treasury Room, will have walls clad in black leather, a signature material for Mr. Marino, who wears it regularly. The gallery will be defined by Mr. Marino’s own artwork—sculpted bronze boxes that are sold through the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan.

“I’m proud. These are original works of art and don’t resemble anything else,” said Mr. Marino, who explained that he didn’t start making the boxes until he was in his 50s. “It takes a long time to find your voice. At a certain point in life, you can be free enough to listen to yourself. It’s not easy and didn’t come to me at a young age, but once you get to a place of freedom—then the skies open up.”

Also on view in the Treasury Room will be several images from Mr. Marino’s extensive collection of Robert Mapplethorpe flower photographs, ancient pieces, such as a 1st century B.C. Roman marble relief depicting three theater masks, and Zhang Huan’s 2011 ash on linen work “Sea No. 1,” which is being shown for the first time since Mr. Marino acquired it.

The next space, the transept gallery, will be given over to Modern German Art, a strong collection area for Mr. Marino, and it will showcase a monumental Anselm Kiefer work as well as six paintings by Georg Baselitz. The emphasis on Baselitz is tied to the artist’s 80th birthday this year, and exhibitions of his work have recently been mounted at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

“We loaned one of the Baselitz’s to the Hirshhorn,” said Mr. Marino, who feels the inclusion of the artist’s work in the Southampton Arts Center show will elevate the profile of the cultural center on the wider stage.

The final installation in “Counterpoint” takes place in the arts center’s theater, and it combines Mr. Marino’s love for art with his passion for classical music. The room is designed to re-create an opera that Mr. Marino and his wife, costume designer Jane Trapnell, produced in celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary in 2013.

Francesco Clemente’s 2013 watercolor, “Elysian Fields Leaves,” has been affixed to a hot pink backdrop and will hang across the stage. The work is one of the original sets used in the opera, Christoph-Willibald Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” which was performed in the music room of the couple’s New York City home.

“We will have the video running, and you’ll hear the Gluck opera,” Mr. Marino explained.

While “Counterpoint” is certainly an exhibition packed with work by serious contemporary artists, in the end, Mr. Marino says, it’s meant to appeal to audiences of all ages.

“Part of my thing is I want kids to enjoy art. Some of it is so cerebral and out there, it’s difficult to relate to,” he said. “I hope this show is also people-friendly … It’s meant to be fun.”

“Counterpoint: Selections from The Peter Marino Collection” will be on view from July 28 through September 23 at the Southampton Arts Center, 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton Village. The show is significant, not only in that it represents Mr. Marino’s lifelong commitment to art across disciplines, but it also marks his first cultural contribution to the Town of Southampton.

“These works are one of the largest assemblages of world-class contemporary art displayed publicly on the East End,” said Tom Dunn, the executive director of Southampton Arts Center, in a recent statement. “We couldn’t be more excited for the show or more grateful to Peter Marino for sharing these remarkable works with us.”

A free public reception will take place on Friday, July 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center, 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton Village. Peter Marino will attend the reception to open the exhibition and make an announcement concerning the cultural heritage of the Village of Southampton. For more information, visit southamptonartscenter.org.

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